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Sunday, August 28, 2016, 22:00

National Olympians enthral HK fans

By Luis Liu

National Olympians enthral HK fans
Chinese national team Olympians meet the public and demonstrate their skills at Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong on August 28, 2016. (Parker Zheng/China Daily)

HONG KONG – Hong Kong sports fans were given, probably, the thrill of a lifetime on Sunday as some of the nation’s, and the world’s, best athletes enchanted huge crowds with their spectacular performances and exhibition matches.

Tens of thousands of spectators held their breath as stars of the 64-member national Olympian delegation swung into action on the second day of their packed, three-day courtesy visit to the Hong Kong SAR.

Wild cheers erupted when their favorite athletes appeared at the city’s major sports center, a natatorium, local shopping malls, community centers and schools.

The visit is the fifth to Hong Kong by mainland Olympic medalists since similar arrangements started in 2000 after the Sydney Summer Olympic Games - the first following the 1997 handover.

At a variety show on Sunday afternoon, the Olympians showcased their talents in different performances and shared their experience and feelings with the crowds.

The biggest cheers were reserved for table tennis stars Zhang Jike and Ma Long, badminton aces “Super Dan” Lin Dan and Chen Long, swimmers Sun Yang and Fu Yuanhui, and members of the national women’s volleyball team.

Sprinter Su Bingtian, diver Lin Yue and Chen Aisen, who hail from Guangdong province and speak Cantonese, also drew great support from the local audience.

Chen Long -- the new Olympic badminton champion – said he had already “turned in” his gold medal won in the men’s singles final in Rio to his girlfriend Wang Shixian, another elite badminton player in the national team. Table tennis champion Xu Xin claimed to have done the same to his girlfriend, but denied that he had proposed to his sweetheart. “A formal proposal is not this easy,” he joked.

Internet sensation Fu Yuanhui was in high spirits, thanking all her Hong Kong fans for their support. Asked about what kind of boyfriend she has in mind, she merely replied: “I would prefer someone like myself.”

The climax of Sunday’s performances came with the national women’s volleyball team, who drew deafening cheers with their prowess in the sport. Swimmer Sun Yang, whose parents are both professional volleyball players, also demonstrated his skills in volleyball.

The Olympians’ demonstrations in badminton, table tennis and diving on Sunday morning also greatly impressed the audience, who applauded and cheered their athletic prowess.

National Olympians enthral HK fans
Chinese diver Wu Minxia (first from left), s wimmer Sun Yang (shaking hand with a fan) and Chinese woman backstroke bronze medalist Fu Yuanhui (1st from right) and other mainland athletes meet the public and stage sports demonstrations in Hong Kong at Victoria Park in Hong Kong on August 28, 2016. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

The mainland stars were also engaged in friendly matches with their Hong Kong counterparts and young local athletes.

Ma Long, who qualified for the Rio Olympics in Hong Kong in April, said his many visits to Hong Kong had made the city very familiar to him.

He told enthusiastic fans he hoped everyone would take pleasure in sport and learn from the national team’s spirit of never giving up.

Liu Ka-hei, 10, who played a game of table tennis with Ma, said: “I was very nervous, but excited to have played with the Olympics champion. I wish Hong Kong could have more of such events in future.”

All the 5,700 tickets to the performances for the public had been sold earlier in the week, while those unable to gain admission could only watch the live broadcasts on television.

The Olympian delegation leaves Hong Kong this afternoon (Monday) for Macao.

luisliu@chinadailyhk.com

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